A Critical Analysis of Northern Nigeria and COVID-19


Coronaviruses come from a large family of zoonotic viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to severe respiratory diseases. The first case of the coronavirus we know so well today was recorded in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei, in China. (There has been realistic comedies that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 [SARS-COV2] got the name COVID-19 because of the farewell shock it picked from 2019 which it dumped in 2020 - the most anticipated year of the world). Zoonotic viruses are an embodiment of viruses that have the ability of being transmitted from animals to humans. There are several severe acute respiratory syndromes (SARS-COV2) which are evident in the animal population and have not, yet, been contracted by the human population. COVID-19 found its way into the human life and wound up at the heart of humanity itself, thereby causing mass contraction of its deadly venom. The most common signs of the COVID-19 infection are similar to that of common cold plus respiratory symptoms such as dry cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death. The COVID-19 infection is spread from one person to another via droplets produced from the respiratory system of infected people, often during coughing or sneezing. The time of exposure to the onset of symptoms of COVID-19 is usually between two and fourteen days, with an average of five days (www.cnbc.com). The dreadful virus has brought down, as we have seen, many socio-economic and physical activities in the global world—from the lock down phenomena, death tolls rising in a speedy momentum, to the struggle over the production of a vaccine. Nigeria is not left behind in the pandemic saga that's been ravaging and harassing the world. The Nigerian economy has suffered many damages and imbalances amidst this coronavirus outbreak with socio-economic activities brought to an inevitable stop. Schools, malls, mini-marts, banks, companies and other essential places locked down. The Northern part of Nigeria is not an exception. The belief and philosophy of Nigerians (North) toward the pandemic is a matter to assess and discuss, elaborately. However, in the wake of this pandemic, there are three beliefs and philosophies with regard to the existence of this virus in Nigeria. The Three Pandemic Philosophies of Nigeria There are those who believe that the virus exists and they take caution and preventive measures. There are those who do not believe in the existence of the virus or its impact on the world economy and do not take preventive measures towards warding it off. Lastly, there are those who believe in the existence of the virus but are convinced with malnourished knowledge of it that it only affects the rich or ruling class—they call it "the big men virus." The First Philosophy The first class which believed in the existence of the virus are well educated and enlightened and they take preventive measures such as wearing face masks and gloves and maintaining physical distancing. As a Sociologist, I find 'physical distancing' to be more appropriate phrase than 'social distancing' as generally used by the global world today. Regardless, the term 'social distancing' is quite popular these days due to the sudden boom of COVID-19. This term is being used globally, wrongly. I will start by clarifying the term 'social distancing' with reference so that there is no ambiguity of error in its understanding. In 1910, a German philosopher, one of the greatest professors of the University of Berlin, George Simmel, had presented a theory of 'Social Geometry.' Simmel has written many essays on social distancing including "The Stranger" and "Social Boundary." There are several terminologies which evolved from the theory of 'Social Geometry,' one of which includes the philosophy of social distancing. By social distancing he had meant distancing from relationships, understanding and cultures. For example, if a Pakistani or Nigerian visits England, then they will be subjected to social distancing, in the form of cultural distancing. They will be in diaspora. Alienation and anonymity are also included in that term.

Likewise, there is social distancing with beliefs among people of different faiths and there is social distancing with understanding between an educated and an illiterate person. Therefore, I suggest we introspect the term we use on a daily basis. It is more appropriate to use terms like 'physical distancing' or 'interactional distancing' instead of 'social distancing' (Professor Farhat Zafar). The Second Philosophy The second set of people are those who don't believe the virus exists. This set of people are highly influenced by religious beliefs, religious scholars and leaders, and emotional stability and poverty. They do not believe in the existence of the ravaging pandemic. As we have seen, some of these people are of the view that they have not seen patients in Nigeria (most especially in the Northern part of Nigeria) with coronavirus. Rather, they believe it's an exaggeration from the rich to embezzle more money from the government's pocket. In the wake of these beliefs, the name of the virus has been restructured, like an expert engineer, from COVID-19 to COVID-419. The spokesman for the police in Katsina State made the following statement about a group of this second set of people. He said: "Recall that in Nigeria (Katsina State) Government under the leadership of His Excellency, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, issued restriction orders Nos. SEC.2/T/3 and SEC.2/T/14 dated 25th and 27th March 2020 respectively, directing the total closure of its borders and suspension of large gatherings for the weekly Friday prayers and Sunday church services while marriage ceremonies are to be conducted in a low key across the state as part of measures taken to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “However, on Friday, March 27, 2020, some disgruntled Nigerian youths under the leadership of one Mallam Hassan tested the will of the state and conducted a Friday prayer in one of the Kusada Jummat mosques. “Subsequently, he was arrested for questioning at Area Commander’s office, Katsina state (Malumfashi ) which did not go down well with some of his followers. “Consequently, today (Saturday) around 9 am, this particular group organised themselves in a tumultuous manner, attacked and overpowered the policemen on duty at Kusada Division, set ablaze the police station and the DPO’s Quarters. They also burnt down seven vehicles and ten motorcycles in the custody of the police station.” These sets of people as I have mentioned earlier are influenced by religious scholars, leaders and beliefs. Even though they (State government) did not ask or stop them from observing their five daily prayers, in the comfort of their homes, but were only asked by the government to put a stop, for sometime, to the congregational prayers and Friday prayers due to the spreading Corona virus. Due to the brain washing by some religious scholars these, youths caused chaos, out of either ignorance or mere foolishness, in Northern Nigeria (Katsina State). As a Sociologist, Karl Marx, put it to the book that "some religious leaders go as far as getting their groceries at the detriment of the poor people." He went further to illuminate the society on the social evil behind the successes of most religious leaders by warning people to "see before they leap." Religion has segregated most societies with pecuniary menial and obscurantism; diluted with Molotov Cocktail of God, by way, embracing hypocrisy among the elites. This is why morale teaching is now decayed with who gets what, when, and how in the society. This is why in his philosophy Karl Marx admonished people not to let these so called angels mislead them in spirituality. The Third Philosophy The third sets of people believe in the existence of the virus, but only among the rich and wealthy class in the society and so it's seen as "the big men virus." They believe that it only affects the upper-class sector in the North and in Nigeria as a whole. The virus has no issues with the poor, for the system of the poor are immune to the virus. These sets of people are of the view that it's only the rich and wealthy classes that do travel out of the country as such they are more prone to contracting the virus. These set of people do not adhere to preventive measures, such as the wearing of face masks, washing of hands with alcohol-based sanitizers, or maintaining physical distancing. Their system is immune to the dreadful virus, or so they believe. Conclusively, the Northern part of Nigeria, and Nigeria at large, has been divided philosophically and ontologically, into three perspectives towards the understanding of the ravaging coronavirus. And these have been in continuum. Coronavirus, from my own point of view being a Northerner and a Nigerian, does exist and taking preventive measures is very vital. I'm one of those who believe in the existence of the virus.